King David as portrayed in the Psalms

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King David as portrayed in the Psalms


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Excerpts from Thomas Carlyle's 1841 work, "On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic," and William Hazlitt's 1828 work, "On Cant and Hypocrisy." The excerpts focus on the moral nature of humans, the necessity of struggle, and issues with the stricter principles of Calvinism.





"On Cant and Hypocrisy" by William Hazlitt, 1828.
"On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic," by Thomas Carlyle, published by James Fraser in 1841.

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Page 1

David's life and history, as written for us in those Psalms of his, I consider to be the truest emblem ever given of man's moral [progress?] and [warfare?] here below. * * Struggle often baffled, [sore?] baffled, down as into entire wrecks; yet a struggle never ended; ever, with tears, repentance, true unconquerable purpose, begun anew. Poor human nature! do not a man's walking, in truth, always that: a 'succession of falls'? Man can do no other in this wild element of life, he has to struggle onwards; now fellow, deep-abaced; and ever, with tears, repentance, bleeding heart, he has to rise again, struggle again, still onwards. That his struggle be a faithful unconquerable one; that is the question of questions. Carlyle.

The stricter tenets of Calvinism, which allow of no mechanism between grace and reprobation, and doom man to eternal punishment for every breach of the moral law, as on equal offence against infinite truth and justice, proceed (like the paradoxical doctrine of the Stoics) from taking a half-veiw of this subject, and considering man as amenable only to the dictates of his understanding and his con-science, and not excusable from the temptations and fragility of human ignorance and passion. The mixing up of religion and morality together, or the making us accountable for every thought, and or action, under no less a responsibility than one (q. our?) everlasting future [welfare?] or misery, has all added incalculably to the dif-[?] of self-knowledge, has [superinduced?] a violent and [spurious?] state of feelings, and made it almost to distinguish the boundaries between true and false, in judging of human conduct and motives. A

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religious man is afraid of looking into the state of his soul, lest at the same time he should re-veal it to Heaven; and tries to persuade himself that by shutting his eyes to his true cha-racter and feelings, they will remain a profound secret, both here and hereafter. Hazlitt.

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“King David as portrayed in the Psalms,” Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed November 28, 2022,

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